I like when the Sox beat Sharky Shields. Truth be told, I like it when they beat just about anyone. Wins are fantastic. They're extra-fantastic when coupled with a Yankees loss that puts us just one game out of first. Everyone likes being in first place. I know I do. Our wounded warriors do, too.
Sharky was a formidable opponent through the first four innings, only allowing a couple of hits and a walk or two. We squandered some early opportunities, and this game looked like it was going to be a tight pitcher's duel. Luckily for us, Lackey decided to man up last night and threw seven innings of 8-hit, 1-run baseball. He didn't allow that run to come across until the Sox had a 5-run lead. I still don't like John Lackey, and I'm not sure if I ever will, but we needed a good start, and a win, from him and he delivered in relatively convicing fashion.
But, back to Sharky. He was swimming along though four innings just fine. His pitch count was a little high, but the Sox tend to make pitch counts rise pretty effectively when they're actually trying. After a Cameron single and a Scutaro double, Papi stepped to the plate and smacked a three-run shot into the right field box seats, reminding us that before Pedroia went all laser show on us, he was the one who was carrying the team. It was a nice reminder. I guess that the breakthrough against Sharky was all we needed to rattle him, because after getting Youk out to end the 5th, he came back for the sixth (with his pitch count at 98), hit JD with a pitch, and gave up consecutive singles to Beltre and Tek, scoring Drew. Dan Wheeler, Sharky's replacement, would allow a single to Daniel Nava to drive in Beltre, and we led it 5-0. They compiled three more runs on a Varitek sac fly and a Bill Hall 2-run home run.
I don't remember what inning it was, but when Beltre almost crashed into Tek, I was holding my breath. Luckily, they didn't actually collide, but if they had.... I don't know, I don't think Tek would break the way Wolverine and CRW did. Tek is built like a linebacker. This, however, does not mean I want him running into Beltre's knees just to prove that he won't break. Not at all. And seriously, someone needs to talk to Beltre about not smashing into his team mates. Does this guy pay attention to his surroundings at all? It's very concerning. I'm glad Tek is ok, but it was too close for comfort.
After Lackey, it seemed it was going to be a nice easy win requiring only one, maybe two relief pitchers to close it out. Nope. Why on Earth would they make it that easy? It took five relief pitchers to close out 2 innings. Oki allowed 2 runs in 2/3rds of an inning. Bard had to come in to close out the eighth for him. Atch started the ninth, allowing a walk and a single (and stolen bases and such) before getting Longoria to pop out. Tito pulls Atch, brings in Richardson, who strikes out Pena and then allows a quick 2-run single to Ben Zobrist. Now Richardson is out. Paps comes in for a technical save and gets Willy Aybar to end the game without any further trouble. It shouldn't have been that difficult, but it was. It's fine. It's a win. We're one game back.
And not for nothing, but I'm in love with the Red Sox rain delay commercial that NESN has been showing. Tito in that wig? Priceless.
1 week ago